Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mommy Relaxation

Being a part of the Blog Her network, they asked a few of us bloggers if we had any posts about Moms taking Breaks and Relaxation, or basically any mom post NOT related to parenting.  I thought, surely I had written something like that, because it's one of the most important task for moms.  If moms don't take breaks, then they aren't going to be the best parent.

But as I looked through all of my posts, gasp, I didn't have one!  So alas, this post is long overdue about mommy time, relaxing and taking breaks, kid-free.

As a woman and a mother, whether you work outside the home or are a stay at home mom, responsibilities fall on you like no tomorrow.  Your partner can have all the best intentions in the world and be the best helper out there, but they still don't think of everything.  Period.  When we go to bed at night, our mind races and we are thinking: Did I pack enough for her lunch tomorrow?  I hope my baby doesn't cry when I drop her off at daycare tomorrow.  I need to order the shoes for her Halloween costume.  Oh, yeah, I forgot to call a sitter for our date night next weekend.  Did I run the dishwasher? I need to wash her favorite dress tomorrow morning because she needs to wear it on Saturday.  My kids pooped today, right? 

Am I right or what? What husband/partner has these things running through their head? And believe me, there are a ton more thoughts we think of, those were just the first few minutes.

So it goes without saying that moms need a break too and to be better mommies!  You can't be a sane, mentally healthy parent if you aren't well rested (and have kid free, breaks :).

Here are a few tips for new mommies and old, stay at home mommas and working crazy hour mommas.  And yes, hello, a beach vacation is. so the best. relaxation tip. ever.  But when we can't take a vacay:

1) For Newborn Mommas: If you have a newborn, you are glued to the baby non-stop for feeding, holding and rocking.

When several of my friends went through the baby blues, they thought they were going to lose it with the stress of a new baby. So the best advice I could give was to get out of the house.  For just 30 minutes, find time to get away to gain a little sanity back.  I know it's hard to leave, but first feed your baby, then have your partner or family member watch the baby and go.  Just go. Walk around Target, buy a trashy tabloid magazine and gaze around you at the wonder of life without a baby. Yes, life does go on. The hard part is realizing you can never just take off and run an errand on a whim without planning on who is watching your child. It's no longer just you.  Which leads me to the next tip:

2) Plan Some Free Time!
You now have to schedule your free time once you have a child.  But do schedule it, put it on the calendar.  Whatever it is you need to do to relax, schedule it so you will actually do it.  And allow yourself this time.  If you work outside the home, you want to spend all of your free time with your kids at night, and on the weekends, but you STILL need some time away.  So schedule it already.

3) Exercise.  Go for a walk, or go to the gym
Whether you are a gym rat or an "I only workout alone outdoors" type, you have to do some sort of physical relaxation.  I know it's impossible to find time with kids, but join a gym with good childcare and bring them with you.  Or go in the morning before work, or after the kids are asleep in bed at night. Go for a walk outside, or join a yoga studio.  Everyone needs to de-stress and exercise is one of the best ways to feel better.  It helps with those hormone rages women get while pregnant or once a month too :)

4) Go to a coffee house
Everyone used to go to a coffee house at one stage in their lives. For me it was college. We would go and study at these super cool hip ones in Austin late at night (Spider House, Mojos anyone?).  Now people bring their laptops and lounge on the sofas at Starbucks, but hopefully you're lucky enough to have a cool independent coffee house in town.  There are mornings on the weekends or after the kids go to bed on a weeknight, where I will take a book or my computer and sit up there alone.  Or meet a friend. Just sitting there, in almost silence, is a great break and it makes me feel young again like I am back in college :) Even if you're not a coffee person you can order a tea or lemonade.

5) Walk the Mall
Talk to women without kids and they'll look at you like you're crazy when I tell them I enjoy walking around the mall as a relaxation technique.  But to walk into a store without a stroller and be able to actually look at a dress without a child pulling on your leg or crying, or pleading, 'I wanna go home now!' is the most relaxing time ever!  I was never a 4 hour mall shopper to begin with, but just an hour to cruise around, try on some makeup at Sephora, window shop and browse the sale shoe racks is bliss.

6) Actually schedule a facial or massage
When we think of mommy relaxation, most of us think of a massage or mani/pedi.  And they really can be the best relaxation remedy!  It's Friday night and you are so ready for the weekend, call your local pedicure place and book an appointment for Saturday. Or better yet, book a massage!  Just an hour away from your home, in a quiet room with soothing relaxation music is the best medicine.  (look for your local Spa Week discounts where some places are 50% off) If you can afford it, try to book something once a month, and put it on your calendar so you will actually go.  For me, sometimes I go to a late appointment on a weeknight so I can help put the kids to bed and then escape, come home relaxed and go right to bed. Ahhhh.

7) Read Trashy Magazines/Books (no parenting magazines or anything that makes your brain think).
Step away from any parenting magazine, book, emails, blogs, internet sites about work, and parenthood.  You need an escape from using your brain, and what better way than to flip through a People or Us Weekly, or even style magazines like Vogue.  They will make you feel normal again, you know, like those lazy Sundays pre-kids, where you could sleep in, watch E! TV all day long and browse magazines laying on your non-child proofed glass coffee table.

8) Get in bed early at night!  A well rested mommy = a happy mommy
Sigh. This is a hard one. Especially because for me I don't get any free time until the kids are asleep. And sometimes even when we put the kids to bed early, they are up for whatever reason and may not fall asleep until 9pm.  Wanting more water, going to potty, the nightlight isn't bright enough, you name it.  And so I am scrambling to get everything done that I can't do when the kids are awake.  Next thing you know, it's 12am.  And my baby gets up at 6am, not a good recipe for a good night's sleep.

So I recommend doing whatever you need to do to get to bed at a good hour. That means setting a goal of what time you want to be asleep, and then start 'getting ready for bed' 30 minutes before that bedtime.  I know for me, once I start getting ready for bed, I see laundry that isn't folded, extra dishes I thought had been cleaned, and then it's an hour later. So another good tip is before you sit down at night to relax, get all of the dirty dishes, and laundry work done.  I know, you are exhausted and can't do one more physical activity and just want to plop on the sofa, but keep moving and that way you can relax and not have to worry about those extra chores before bed.

9) If you can't make it out of the house, then at least plan some alone time at home.
If you are a single mom and don't have someone to help at home or have just had a hard day, put the kids to bed, and escape to a nice hot bath.  Pour a glass of wine and light a candle. Don't reserve those candles for special occasions, you deserve them too on a Monday night. Or get in bed and curl up with a good book, magazine or movie.  And don't feel bad, guilt is one thing that parents will experience throughout life, so save it for something bigger, taking a break is not one of them :)

10) Reach out to other mommas
Isn't it funny how after you have a child, you are drawn to wanting a connection with other moms? One woman could be the emo girl before kids, and another the preppy sorority girl, but throw in the common denominator, "you have a 4 month old too?" and they are instant friends.  Having kids will do that too you.  Moms need support from other moms, it helps them feel normal and sane.

But finding mom friends can be hard.  If you are more isolated, work with coworkers without kids, or your friends have kids way older than yours or haven't had them yet, it's easy to feel alone.  I am so glad I joined my neighborhood baby group when my first was 4 months old. I met a lot of moms with the same aged baby, and we had playdates, talked about baby stuff, mommy stuff and are now a huge support system to each other. If I didn't have that, then I probably would not have been able to survive as a new mom.  So start going to area mommy and me classes (they have them on weekends too), free storytimes, meetup groups and area early childhood PTA groups.  It's a primal caveman thing, all of us moms sticking together and herding our children through life :)

So those are my top tips to help de-stress as a mom.  The most important part of any of these though is to ALLOW yourself to do these things. You may read these tips and think, yeah, yeah good ideas, I should try it. But then you never get around to it.  Like I mentioned above, you have to sometimes actually schedule them, or allow yourself to take the time. Tell your partner you are taking a break. Hire a sitter.  And lastly, quit feeling guilty and go out there and do them!


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